Pedestrians are happy that pavements along bus routes have been widened, but motorists rue narrowed carriageways

The situation on Chennai’s Bus Route Roads (BRR) has now become more like the moral story about the monkey dividing a piece of cake for two kittens. Pedestrians have become happy as the pavements have been widened, but motorists feel that the carriageways have narrowed.

The pavements are being widened on 25 BRRs in the city, including Commissioner Office Road and Whites Road. Many car drivers and MTC bus drivers claim they are finding it hard to turn their vehicles on such roads as the space has reduced.

“Earlier I could steer the vehicle easily from Royapettah High Road towards Whites Road. After the pavements were broadened, I find it a little difficult to manoeuvre it. The Chennai Corporation should ensure that the carriageway is not compromised, considering the increase in the number of vehicles in the city,” says K. Bharath, a senior marketing official.

Senior traffic police officers, however, state that it is road discipline that needs to be improved.

'“Only around 40 percentage of the carriageway is usable for vehicles. The rest of the space is taken up by pedestrians and haphazard parking. The Corporation should ensure that the pavements are clean and hawkers do not set up shops,” a senior traffic police officer suggests.

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There is every chance of getting hurt while travelling on rickety old buses. Even though most buses belonging to the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) look good, on the inside, many are old and worn out. This applies to the newer air-conditioned buses as well.

T. Usha from Guindy, a frequent commuter on the buses, has a horror story to tell from almost every journey.

On one 23C bus from Besant Nagar, an iron piece that that was sticking out of the seat scratched her hand and she had to get a tetanus shot. On another bus that she took from Saidapet, the glass window fell on to the road and shattered even as she was looking out.

R. Mohan from Chetpet, who uses the transport corporation’s buses to commute, says that in many of the buses there are holes in the floor. “The air-conditioned buses have water leaking from them and during the monsoon, water leaks inside most ordinary buses. The holes in the floor are large enough for people’s feet to get caught in. The few buses that are designed to take wheelchairs have space for the differently-abled passengers but the steps are the same fixed ones that cannot bring the passenger up,” he said.

Though according to the MTC all the buses get a fitness certificate every year, and are taken to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) every six months for checking, they face a number of maintenance-related problems.

According to a senior transport official, the problem arises because there are very few inspectors in the transport department, who check MTC buses, autorickshaws and all public transport and commercial vehicles.

“All MTC buses are required to go to the central RTO, and since there are only a limited number of inspectors there, each bus gets only a cursory glance with the entire inspection lasting a few minutes,” he said.

(Reporting by Vivek Narayanan and Kavita Kishore)

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